Book Review

Spingola Files’ Best True Crime Books of 2016

Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel book editor Jim Higgins released his list of the best books of 2016. If reading a Chinese novelist’s sci-fi trilogy is not something you would particularly enjoy, checkout this list of the best true crime books of 2016:

#1 Badge 387: The Story of Jim Simone, America’s Most Decorated Cop

This book completely debunks the Black Lives Matter cop-hating narrative. Badge 387 is an outstanding read and would make a great gift for any person considering a career in law enforcement.

https://www.amazon.com/Badge-387-Simone-Ameri…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

#2 Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War

https://www.amazon.com/Rogue-Heroes-History-B…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

This is a compelling story of a British SAS unit during World War II. These elite troops were dropped behind enemy lines in Africa to fight Hitler’s troops.

#3 You Gotta Be Dirty: The Outlaws Motorcycle Club In & Around Wisconsin.

An excellent book about a motorcycle gang that terrorized rival bikers, everyday residents, and even the police in Milwaukee. For those familiar with Milwaukee and Wisconsin, many of the names and places will certainly ring bell.

https://www.amazon.com/You-Gotta-Dirty-Motorc…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

#4 Wolf Boys

The story of two American teens recruited as assassins for a Mexican gang. The book focuses on the dogged determination of a Mexican-American detective and his frustration with corruption.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Boys-American-Tee…/…/ref=sr_1_1…


#5 The Reporter Who Knew too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen
outlaws_book_cover_twitter

Released just four days ago, this is one to put on your holiday wish list. This story of Dorothy Kilgallen, a New York Post reporter who died of a suspicious drug overdose. Kilgallen was one of the few reporters who feverishly probed the Kennedy assassination. Some believe that her inquiry of the assassination led to her demise.

https://www.amazon.com/Reporter-Who-Knew-Too-…/…/ref=sr_1_1…


Book Review: “Badge 387″

Badge 387: The Story of Jim Simone, America’s Most Decorated Copbadge-387, is authored by Cleveland-area crime journalist Robert Sberna. While conducting research pertaining to police officer use of force, the author learned more about Officer Jim Simone, who members of the news media and many in Cleveland referred to as “super cop.”

Simone’s saga is not simply that of a dedicated rank-and-file cop; this is a story of an American hero. After graduating from high school in the mid-1960s, Simone received an academic scholarship to college in Ohio. A year earlier, President Lyndon Johnson had escalated the war in Vietnam. Just prior to college classes starting, Simone’s father — a World War II veteran — walked into his son’s bedroom and said, ‘There’s a war going on. Get your ass down there and enlist.’

Simone later became a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne. During a tour in Vietnam, he was wounded twice, and received two bronze stars and two purple hearts. The second time, medics initially wrote him off for dead, but he recovered. While convalescing at Walter Reed Hospital, an official asked Simone to enter officers’ candidate school. Simone refused saying that he had killed more people than he could remember and he was mentally done with the military.

Later, after becoming a member of the Cleveland PD, Simone set record levels for arrests and other activity. He also drew the ire of other officers because he did not believe in professional courtesy.

In December 1983, Simone and his fellow officers searched the basement of a church for a carjacking and robbery suspect. The officers didn’t know it, but the suspect — a convicted felon strung out PCP — likely wanted to commit suicide by cop. Armed with a revolver, the suspect was hiding in a basement closet and, as officers attempted to clear the closet, shot Simone in the face. The round exited the back side of Simone’s skull. Two other officers were also shot before the shooter was killed. When fellow officers finally made it to his side, Simone told them that he knew that he was dying, but, miraculously, he survived.

There is another interesting story in this book. A colleague of Simone’s shot several people who were African-American (the five people shot by Simone were white). Although Simone was viewed as super cop, the other officer was repeatedly harassed by the media, the brass at the Cleveland PD, and by critics in the community. This officer told the author that such actions lead to “de-policing,” where good cops simply throw up their hands and refuse to do their jobs for fear of retribution. The officer correctly noted: “Political correctness is killing this country.”

One thing that impressed me about this book was the objectivity of the author. Mr. Sberna carefully sifted through the facts, and viewed events and the actions of officers in their totality. One call tell that the author is a throwback to an era when journalists reported the news, and did not seek to make news or carry water for a particular ideological agenda. In this book, when officers were out of order, Sberna called them out; however, the author also held political figures to the same standard. This would never happen in Milwaukee, where the anti-police agenda at the newspaper is evident for all to see.

Overall, this is a very good book. Anyone interesting in entering law enforcement or seeing what police officers must deal with should read this book. I give it five stars, and guarantee that it will never be reviewed by anyone at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Retired Police Captain Reviews “Psychic Reprieve” — Mitchell Nevin’s Wisconsin-Based Crime Novel

psy cover

Mitchell Nevin’s new novel, Psychic Reprieve: Deception & Reality, weaves a story of three men who had the misfortune of being convicted of felony crimes, but the good fortune of ending up as cellmates in a federal minimum security prison camp, where they became close friends.  One was Raunold Choquet, aka: “R.C.,” who had lived with his grandparents in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, after his mother’s murder. R.C. had a promising future as the closer for the Milwaukee State college baseball team.  His other cellmates included a former Chicago police sergeant (Gannon Burke) and a small-time identity thief (Luigi Fabriano), who forged identification papers in St Paul.

A college baseball team hazing prank goes bad, which results with R.C. being charged with a federal offense and imprisoned because of the political nature of the crime.  After a beating by a group of other inmates, R.C. develops that ability to see into the future, which leads to the successful clearances of several major crimes, including the arrest of a serial killer.  The manner in which Mitchell Nevin injects these “visions” reminds me of the old television series from the late 50s/early 60s—The Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond.

Gannon Burke, having been convicted of a public corruption charges, and Luigi befriend R.C.  After their release from prison, the trio develops a scheme to profit from R.C.’s clairvoyant powers while working in at Drina’s Pasta Palace, an Italian restaurant in downtown Eau Claire.

As in his first book, The Cozen Protocol, Mitchell Nevin worked his knowledge of internal police operations; criminal investigations, high-tech government surveillance, and the politics of a prosecution into the story in a way that is informative as well as entertaining.  In Psychic Reprieve: Deception & Reality, Nevin again melds his familiarity of law enforcement procedures into a fictional story, which makes it easy for the reader to form a mental picture and enjoy the plot. The perspectives of each of the main characters, as well as the way in which the author sets-up their encounters with law enforcement and other antagonists, is interesting to say the least.

Psychic Reprieve has several scenes that occur in Milwaukee.  A few of the hazing pranks initiated by the players on the Milwaukee State baseball team are good for a few laughs.  Some of those who have served on the MPD in the past might recognize these events.  Other major portions of the novel occur in Eau Claire, including one scene where a mano-a-mano showdown takes place during a gentlemen’s bet between R.C. and the power hitting first basemen of the Eau Claire Rail Splitters.  The bet, set-up by the crew at the Pasta Palace,  is to determine if the stellar pitcher can get the college conference player out in one at bat.

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, I would give Psychic Reprieve and “8” for the following reasons:  perhaps the best fictional books I have ever read were those by the late Vince Flynn. Hence, his work product is the standard by which I compare other novels when rendering an opinion.  Psychic Reprieve—filled with witty one-liners—had a different type of plot and focus than I expected, and that gave the novel a twist that I found very interesting.

Checkout Psychic Reprieve at Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/178-0556010-7603202?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=%22psychic%20reprieve%22

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Glenn D. Frankovis, a retired Milwaukee Police Department captain and district commander (1975-2004), is the author of a soon-to-be released book involving urban policing strategies.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


Book Review: A Government of Wolves

Is America slouching towards a police state or is our nation already an “electronic concentration camp?”

In his recently released book, A Government of Wolves: the Emerging American Police State, John W. Whitehead, the president of the Rutherford Institute, makes a strong case that our out-of-control federal government has already crossed the Orwellian line of no return.

To make his point, the author quotes Milton Mayer, who made the following observation:

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.”

Mayer, however, was not pontificating about post-9/11 America.  Instead, his observations concerned the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

In A Government of Wolves, Whitehead details the methods and technologies that the federal government, as well as its co-opted local law enforcement ‘partners,’ uses to keep tabs on all Americans.  The debate, as he sees it, is weather the new “electronic concentration camp” is more in line with George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, since both novels offer slightly different versions of how the government seized the freedoms and privacy of the populace.

Personally, I think the Huxley scenario—that the culture is so consumed by entertainment and technology “that the citizenry does not realize they occupy a prison until it is too late’—is spot on.  A thriving democracy depends on a high percentage of knowledgeable voters, and, quite frankly, the knowledge most voters possess is the equivalent of sixth grade reading level.

Earlier this month, noted conspiracy theorist Mark Dice released a ‘man on the street video,’ showing what occurred when some college-educated people where asked to sign a petition asking President Obama to ban the Bill of Rights.  Proof that Low Information Voters (LIVs) abound, many signed without hesitation.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/09/watch-and-weep-heres-a-video-of-people-signing-a-petition-to-repeal-the-bill-of-rights/

These are the sheep, too caught-up in the latest episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, to realize that they are being led to the political slaughter.  As long as the politician that they support gives his blessing, LIVs apparently are too busy to even care that their government is lying about the IRS scandal, NSA spying, or the establishment of a police state in the name of security.

Another assertion Whitehead makes is that the local police are being turned into a federally subsidized army; whereby, the federal government continues to borrow and print money while offering ‘grants’ that equip police departments with drones, cellular telephone tracking equipment, armored personnel carriers, and other high-tech gadgets, such as LED lights that cause nausea.

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal echoed this concern in an article entitled, Rise of the Warrior Cop.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323848804578608040780519904.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

Whitehead also makes a case that, in the near future, society will be divided into two broad categories of classes: the watchers and the watched.  In the United States, over 850,000 people—either contractors or government employees—are involved in the implementation of the Patriot Act-based surveillance state—the one that was supposed to keep tabs on terrorists. Of course, the term “terrorist” is rather subjective, which is why A Government of Wolves notes that intelligence fusion centers have monitored libertarian groups and other organizations that believe the federal government is too large, too intrusive, or no longer abides by the Constitution.

One a scale of one to ten, with one being the worst, the Spingola Files gives A Government of Wolves a nine.  For those who cherish freedom, for the government lap dogs in the mainstream media, and for students of criminal justice, this book is one that you should make a point to read.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


SF Reviews “American Stasi: Fusion Centers and Domestic Spying.”

To view this article, please checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, available exclusively at Amazon.com in December of 2012.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


Retired MPD Captain Reviews Milwaukee-Based Crime Novel

As promised, the Spingola Files (SF) is proud to present retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis’ review of The Cozen Protocol, a 2010 Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award nominee.  

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THE COZEN PROTOCOL

Author:    Mitchell Nevin

Setting:    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Genre:      Crime & Corruption

The Cozen Protocol is a fictional book that tells how corruption and poor leadership within a police organization touches the lives of a number of people who are, or have been, associated with that organization.  Mitchell Nevin uses the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department as his backdrop and blends elements of real incidents with fiction.  The characters range from the Department’s police chief to members of the police department’s Professional Performance Division (previously known as the Internal Affairs Division) to biker and Spanish gang members.  Each chapter is another piece of a very interesting puzzle that, when complete, will neatly tie up any loose ends for the reader.

 Without going into too much detail, the danger of undercover work (think Donnie Brasco, the movie about FBI Special Agent Joe Pistone as portrayed by Johnny Depp, who became “like them” to his wife and even to himself); the emphasis on getting guns off the street to reduce violent crime and the methods employed, which have officers walking a very fine line; and an overzealous attempt on the part of some members of the department to insure “integrity,” are brought to light in this book and the results are damaging to overall morale as one might expect.  This will all be familiar to those who lived through these experiences and, in some cases, had their careers altered permanently.  I’m talking about very good officers who were acting with the best of intentions in an almost “Mission Impossible” environment.    

 Those who were members of the Milwaukee Police Department over the past 25 to 35 years will especially enjoy the challenge of trying to link the traits of the characters in the book to people they encountered throughout their own careers and will also remember many of the real life incidents that are blended into the story.  Mitchell Nevin did an absolutely fantastic job of research in his preparation for writing this book, as he captures the frustrations of the rank-and-file members of the Department, who are working under internal conditions that not only present many obstacles but are dangerous to their professional and personal lives.

 Another part of the story line that the reader will find fascinating is the interaction between several of the law enforcement officer characters and a member of the media and defense attorney.  Some may find themselves saying that part of the book is definitely fiction, but others may have their own experiences, which affirm the validity of that part of the story.  Either way, it is one more piece of the puzzle that makes this book hard to put down.

The Cozen Protocol  also clearly identifies how inept leadership can influence the day-to-day environment of the working copper and detective; how important trust is in a law enforcement organization; and how difficult the job can be without trust.  Personal ambition and big egos are usually recipes for disaster, as Mitchell Nevin illustrates.

One main character stood out for me as I was reading the book.  Detective Gavin Fitzgerald was a street smart, steady, level headed investigator who had a combination of real street experience, wisdom and a dedication to duty.  He was well respected by his peers and his immediate supervisor and knew how to work around the obstacles presented by management.   Gavin Fitzgerald struck me as a law enforcement officer who wasn’t consumed with himself or where he could get on the job.  He also struck me as one who didn’t make excuses and who saw the job as a calling.  The last page of the last chapter of the book sealed that for me.

 There are lessons to be learned even from a fictional book such as this.  Police chiefs need to understand that quality of supervision matters.  Supervisors need to understand that with authority comes responsibility – and that includes making decisions.  Good coppers and detectives need to understand their obligations to take promotional exams with an eye toward becoming the kind of supervisors and leaders they themselves want to see in the organization.   Day-to-day operations need to be critiqued with an eye toward improvement.  For example, when a special unit is deployed to fight street gang activity it needs to work collectively as a team of uniformed and plainclothes officers – not individually – and the teams must be led by capable supervisors who have a demonstrated work history and who work with them.   The teams are best deployed on a district-by-district basis rather than from some central “downtown” location.  This allows for greater control; much better cooperation and intelligence from the good people of the neighborhoods, which builds “trust and confidence” and leads to a more surgical operation and less collateral damage; and better accountability and response to problems.  To be sure, a “central” intelligence gathering unit is necessary to coordinate certain investigations and link criminal operations that transcend district boundaries, however the street level operations are much more effective and efficient if performed by selected uniformed officers and detectives who work as a team and patrol as “a pack” out of the district stations.   

The wise officer/detective/supervisor and even a police chief will take something from this book and apply it to his/her operational/administrative style and hopefully make the work environment a little bit better for those people who are out there fighting crime.

 As for The Cozen Protocol, I highly recommend this book and am sure the reader will enjoy it as much as I did.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone makes it into a television movie on the order of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Choir Boys or The New Centurions.

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Glenn D. Frankovis served with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) from 1975 to 2004.  During his career, he served on the MPD’s Tactical Enforcement Unit and later commanded Districts Five and Three on Milwaukee’s north side.

Editor’s note: Since SF has received serveral inquries, The Cozen Protocol is an e-book available exclusively at Amazon.com.  Readers can download the novel to a PC, Kindle, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  The software to download Kindle books to a PC is free.  To obtain the software, visit the “Free e-books to PC software” link on the right side of this Web page.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011